AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific is back in the NAIA Championship Tournament for a third straight year and the ninth time in program history. The Cougars, who are ranked No. 8 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll, picked up one of the 9 at-large berths and an additional first-round bye based on their high ranking to secure a spot in the 24-team pool play in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Cougars, who enter the Tournament with a 27-6 record, open pool play Tuesday, Nov. 30, against Rocky Mountain College. Azusa Pacific takes on Oklahoma City University on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and Columbia College on Thursday, Dec. 2. All 3 pool play matches begin at 3:15 p.m. (CST).
The top 2 teams from the 6 pools advance to the single elimination bracket starting Friday, Dec. 3. The 2010 champion will be crowned on the evening of Dec. 4.
Last year Azusa Pacific advanced to the quarterfinals after sweeping through its pool and beating Indiana Tech before falling to GSAC rival Concordia University in 4 sets. It was the best showing by an Azusa Pacific team at the NAIA Tournament since the 1992 Cougars made it to the quarterfinals as well. The 1980 Azusa Pacific won the first-ever NAIA volleyball national championship.
Led by All-GSAC junior Whittany Radcliffe, Azusa Pacific heads into the NAIA Tournament with a 3-match winning streak, highlighted by a sweep at No. 11 Concordia on Nov. 13 to close out the regular-season. Radcliffe, who had a team-high 14 kills in that match, is currently fourth in the GSAC in kills (4.3 avg.). All-American Amy Alkazin, now a 3-time All-GSAC honoree, will offer veteran leadership in Sioux City. She is making her third NAIA Tournament appearance.
Azusa Pacific is one of 6 schools from the Golden State Athletic Conference to advance to the 24-team tournament site. Five GSAC schools – Azusa Pacific, Biola, California Baptist, Concordia and Fresno Pacific – earned opening-round byes while Point Loma Nazarene downed Dillard (La.) last Saturday to clinch its place in Sioux City.
For more detailed information on the entire 24-team NAIA Tournament field and the pool play schedule, click here.